Lola’s Ramblings: What do you remember about when you read a book?

Posted January 21, 2016 by Lola in Lola's Ramblings / 28 Comments


Lola’s Ramblings is a feature on my blog Lola’s Reviews where I ramble on about a book related or a non-book related topic. These are discussion type of posts where I talk about a topic and readers can weigh in on the topic in the comments. Usually these posts are everything that doesn’t fall under any standard header, like tours, cover reveals, memes, challenges, recaps or reviews. Lola’s Ramblings posts are discussions of a certain topic and my point of view on them. The banner for this feature is designed by Michelle from Limabean Designs.

Sorry the title for this one may sound a bit confusing, but today I want to talk about associative memory. I am not sure if that’s a real term, but that’s the word I use for it. It’s the kind of memories that pop up in your mind when you think of an object and others that you associative with it come back up, sometimes it’s more a feeling, sometimes an imagine or other times the knowledge of something that makes you think of that obbjects. It’s when you hear a song and remember other instances where you heard it or start smiling or crying because of the feeling associated with it. With books it are the things you remember or associate with a book that have nothing to do with the story itself, but with when, where and how you read it. Some books I read have very strong associative memories and feelings. Some books have very strong memories associated with them, others only some vague ones. Sometimes it’s hard to tell why one book has stronger memories associated with it than others. Overal I have very strong associative memory, a sentence can make me think of a song, a song can remember me of emotions, a certain dish can remind me of a book or life event and so on. These memories often pop up pretty suddenly or I can focus myself to remember these things.

Examples of associative memories

I just have to take a look at my bookshelves to come up with a few example to illustrate what I mean with associative memories when it comes to books. I remember I read Summer Haikus shortly after my pet rats died and how reading a good book was able to take my mind of things a little. I remember reading Storm Fall while they were renovating a house in the same appartment complex and how I spent longer than normal after breakfast reading the book as I was so tired (because I woke up from the sound) and I just wanted to read. I remember how I read Darkfever when I got the train to uni and how I arrived early that day. I remember how Pita was sick when I read The Legacy Human. I remember how when I read the Duality Bridge we couldn’t sleep and I read part of it in the middle of the night. I remember how I read Camp Boyfriend while reading on the couch in broad daylight and that I took a picture of my pets rats on the book. I remember I read Cursed while on the train to visit my mom and wrote my review for it while I was there on her laptop. I remember reading Cold Burn of magic and not getting much reading done one day as my rats wouldn’t sit still and I spent time petting them instead. I remember starting The Selection when I brought one of my rats to the vet early in the morning for surgery. I remember how I read the Elemental Assassin series when on vacation to germany years ago and how I really loved reading those books. I remember how I read Pride at the start of a school vacation and stayed up late reading and eventually didn’t finish the last chapter and read that first thing in the morning. I remember reading Pushing the Limits one hot summer day in the middle of summer vacation and reading most of the book in one day and how it made me fall in love with contemporary romances. I remember reading the True Blood first 3 books omnibus during a break in college and someone asking me about the book.

What do I remember when I think of a book?

  • When. For most books I remember globally when I read it, when in times of which time of the year, which year, when on the day or when in relation to other events. Sometimes it’s very vaguely like in which year or in which season, or a globally like when I was still in uni or high school. But sometimes very specific, like which month it was or where I was or what I was doing at that time or how I read a certain book in a certain season while doing a specific thing. Most books I have at least a global feeling of when I read it, like I read this years ago or in terms of which area of my life it was like, high school, uni or after uni/ working. There are only a few books where the memories are really specific, but it still happens often enough.
  • How. Usually I remember in which format I read a book, which sure comes in handy sometimes as usually I remember in which format I have a book. And sometimes how I was feeling at the time I read the book or how I was doing at that point or what was around me.
  • Where. As I read a book on multiple days this often means more globally, like if I read it in the train, during breakfast at the table, in bed or on the couch. Those are my most common reading spots.
  • Relation to specific events in my life. I remember most of the books I read around specific big events in my life. During vacation, when making a special trip, when we lost the rats etc. I especially remember books I read during big events,but also soemtiems the less significant events that somehow I still remember clearly or can get triggered when thinking of a certain book.
  • Visuals. Sometimes it’s more a snapshot or image that the memory takes place an imagine of how I spent my time reading that with the feel and look of the place and time. It can be an imagine I remember.

For most books it’s more general or I can’t tell you much details except for I read it long ago or I read it summer. But for some books I have very strong and intense memories where thinking of that book automatically brings that memory or snapshot into my mind. So often when talking about books I read there are a lot more things I remember than just the story or the book itself. I remember things surrounding that book and when, how and where I read it.

What do you remember about when you read a book? Can you share some of the memories associated with a specific book?


28 responses to “Lola’s Ramblings: What do you remember about when you read a book?

  1. I’m very much the same. I remember times or places in which I read those books or at very specific life events. I read the first Harry Potter book sitting poolside in Chiang Mai, Thailand in 2000. I remember that very clearly! I read The Other Side Of The Story by Marian Keyes while sitting poolside in Curacao on my honeymoon. Lol. Lots of poolside reading! I remember reading the Uglies series when ALL my other friends were reading it at the same time, and how we talked about it on Twitter constantly. Then there are some I associate with being a new teen reader. Yeah, I think it usually comes down to time and circumstances!
    S. J. Pajonas recently posted…From My Desk To Yours: The Treadmill DeskMy Profile

    • I also remember reading the first harry Potter book very clearly, especially the moment I started reading it. Reading a memorable book at a memorable moment like when you were in Thailand makes the connection even stronger probably.
      You sure love your poolside reading ;). I can only remember reading a few books when I was young at the pool, we went to the poll often when we where little. My sister loved to swim the whole day, but I usually swam in the mornings and then went to read or puzzle.
      That must’ve been fun reading a book while all your friends read it as well. I often read books others don’t or not at the same time, it’s a shame sometimes, but I tried buddy reads and they dont work well either as I am such a moodreader.
      Lola recently posted…Lola’s Kitchen: “Speculaas” Muffins with Almond Paste RecipeMy Profile

  2. I’m the same way. I remember I read Whence Came A Prince sitting on a porch swing on a breezy summer day and I remember the scent of honeysuckle in the air. I read part of Legacy sitting in a little tea shop drinking cream tea while the couple sitting behind me spoke in French. I read The MacGregor’s Lady while baking rum buns. The first time I read Outlander was during a road trip to Virginia and I can remember the fog that was rolling in and I had to use my booklight. The Rescue was read during a horrible thunderstorm and every time it storms I recall pieces from that book.

    I think that books–just like songs and scents–have a really strong way of evoking memories.
    Angela @Simply Angela recently posted…Between a Vamp and a Hard Place by Jessica SimsMy Profile

    • It’s fun to have memories like that associated with the books you read. And some of those memories are so specific. Like how you rememeber what tea you drank and how the couple behind you talked french. It’s also interesting how not only the book can trigger memories of the situation, but also the other way around, like you mentioned with the storm and how it reminds you of that book. I also have associative memories with songs and scents and even with games or sometimes locations, with how I remember the previous tiems I was there.
      Lola recently posted…Lola’s Kitchen: “Speculaas” Muffins with Almond Paste RecipeMy Profile

  3. Oh, this is such a unique topic for discussion!

    I don’t have memories associated with every book I’ve read (heck, I don’t even remember *what* books I read when I was younger lol), but I do have some random ones that stuck around for some reason or another.

    I remember reading Blackwood Farm by Anne Rice when I was about 15 in a cabin in the woods in Canada on vacation. Oh! I remember reading what I think was my first legit sex scene, in A Girl’s Guide to Vampires by Katie MacAlister (super chick lit), on the school bus, also when I was maybe 15, hahaha (my parents only let me read YA, aside from Anne Rice, but I managed to convince my grandma to buy me that one plus one other because I loved vampires and had already read all of that author’s YA books). I was trying to kind of stifle my surprise/laughter, and the guy next to me was just like, “Good book?” Lol. For some reason, everything else coming to mind also involves vampire books, like reading Interview on my bed at home and the ending of Queen of the Damned in a big chair in my grandparent’s living room.

    Nowadays, I mostly read at home (or sitting outside, but that’s still home), so there isn’t that much to associate the books to.
    Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight recently posted…Book Review: A Frozen Heart by Elizabeth RudnickMy Profile

    • Thanks! It’s something so normal for me, that I never really thought to write about it, until now.

      I also don’t have memories associated with everything, but I do have a global feel of when I read it usually and some books trigger these strong memories. Then again if I scroll through my book list I do have quite some that trigger some memories. But my memory is like that with most other things. Sometimes a sentence can remind me of something or makes me think of a song and then that song reminds me again of when I heard that etc.

      I also read most books at home nowadays, so less memories to associate with it then, but if I go out I usually do remember which book I read then. And even when I am home I often remember when I read it or if there was something special happening then.
      Lola recently posted…Lola’s Kitchen: “Speculaas” Muffins with Almond Paste RecipeMy Profile

  4. This is a sometimes thing for me. I associate certain books or authors with emotions or events. I can remember on a camping trip when I was about ten borrowing my dad’s Louis L’Amour western because I was out of books of my own. I can remember my mom handing me my first Phyllis Whitney when I was thirteen because I was bored with ‘kid’ books. I remember pulling an all night read of Stephanie Meyer’s The Host and Patricia Briggs’ Mooncalled back to back when my husband was in Florida and it was the first time we had been apart like that in ten years. But usually, I look at a book and vaguely remember when I read it though I remember the contents of the book a little better. During my most traumatic life events like deaths in the family or with favored pets, etc, I actually don’t read, but write. So with my stories, I can tell you which one was when my father in law was rushed to the hospital or when I took my cat to be put to sleep or when I flew to my grandmother’s funeral. So like I said, its a sometimes thing. 🙂
    Sophia Rose recently posted…Where Nerves End by LA Witt #Review #AudioRevieMy Profile

    • In general I have pretty associative memory, but it’s more a sometimes thing for me too. Some books have less associations than others. I remember reading The Host after a summer vacation and I had a hard time concentration as it was the start of the study year, so I kept reading it between. I loved that book. It’s mostly the traumatic events which form strong associations, but also some seemingly normal events that I remember very clearly. It makes sense that if you write during those times that you associate your own books with those events.

  5. Red Iza

    First, I think I have a very bad memory. Ask me how I was dressed yesterday and I’ve already forgotten ! Second, I read mostly in the train while I’m going to work, it’s practically the only place where I can read without being disturbed, I seldom read when I’m home. Also, I read so many books they feel like a blurr, but while I read, I’m completely concentrated on the book. When Loullig died, I don’t remember what I was reading then, just that I fell into a book slump at this moment. You remember the blue fish in Saving Nemo ? That’s me ! And it scares me sometimes 😉

    • That’s hard for me to imagine, I always value remembering things, so I feel like I often focus on details so I can remember them later. It’s always most like I am afraid to forget things so much that I try and remember everything. I’ve seen Finding Nemo, that blue fish was a great character, but having her memory sounds horrifying to me.

      I do usually read on the same spot, but sometimes switch. Nowadays I read on the couch in the evenings, while before this I read on the bed for a long time. So often the where is the same, but I still have a lot of memories tied in with some books. Not all of them, some become more of a blurb, but overal my associative memory is pretty crazy.

  6. You made a really good point about how events can stick in your mind and lead them to being associated with a book you are reading. My memory in general is really bad so I pretty just remember character names and don’t associate books with memories. I do remember listening to my first audiobook when I was really young in a fort I made with blankets though-nostalgia! This is a very thought-provoking and interesting post!
    Alise recently posted…Review: Shiver by Maggie StiefvaterMy Profile

    • Weirdly enough even though my memory is pretty good, I am horrible at remembering character names. I usually remember the main character name if I am lucky and maybe some side characters, especially in the case of series, but after a while I can remember more about how they acted or the story than what the characters are called. And I do associate my books with other memories. It’s weird how memory works sometimes.

  7. such a fantastic post you have here. There are some books I remember exactly where I was when I read them. Other times I remember scents or certain feelings I had when reading it.

    • I talk about that topic in two weeks, I actually remember quite a few things about the actual book too, although it always surprises me how much I forget as well. But this post was about associative memories, like what was going on in your life when you read a book or which season it was etc.

  8. I like the term associative memory in this context. It encompasses so well what you’re trying to say. For me, this phenomenon applies particularly to emotional times in my life during which I reached for books as means of comfort. Conversely, if a book spoke to me on a deeper level, I tend to remember the circumstances of my life during that time as well.
    Joséphine recently posted…Bookstagram 101: The EquipmentMy Profile

    • I am not sure if it’s the real word for it, I think I once heard it somewhere, but who knows maybe I made it up myself. And yes those emotional times in my life are those where when I read a bhook I remember that time in my life if I think of the book. Or sometimes when I do something I don’t do often, like go on vacation. As it’s not the norm it’s more likely I remember which book I read at that time and whenever I think of that book I will remember that time as well.
      Lola recently posted…Sunday Post #162My Profile

  9. I looooove this topic! I seriously thought I was a little strange for having these feelings, but I definitely do! A lot of time it’s more of an emotional state remembrance. Like, if I think of certain books, I may not remember the exact time, but I do remember the general time frame, and it just brings back an overwhelming feeling. Sometimes it’s a happy nostalgic, sometimes it is downright unappealing! There are a few books that I remember VERY well. The Sookie Stackhouse books are ones I remember vividly too, they’re basically what got me back into reading in general, and I associate them with the little boy with autism who I was working with at the time, because his mom let me borrow the first few books because she swore I’d like them.

    I remember reading The Hunger Games, in my bed, and how I had finished about the first three chapters before I two-day Amazon ordered the next two books (I was lucky, because Mockingjay had just come out too, so no waiting!).

    I think that because I do 99% of my reading at home at the same time of day and in the same spot, it’s easier for me to forget the specifics. But when I DO read a book away from home, I certainly remember it! I read Sweet Madness in one 2-hour bus ride home from New York, and i read The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly almost exclusively on the way home from BEA 😀

    Such a great post, Lola! It really made me think and reminisce about books, and that was fun!
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    • I always felt a bit strange for my associative memory and definitely get some weird looks when I mention, so I was wondering if others had this too. And I am glad to hear I am not the only one who has such strong associative memories with books.

      And yes sometimes it’s more a feeling than exact memories. That’s great you have some fond memories of the Sookie Stackhouse seires. They were pretty vividly for me too, I read them as I slowly started discovering more genres and when I started tyring out urban fantasy and paranormal romances and fell in love with those genres.

      I also remember the Hunger Games and how I read one of the books during a break betweeb clases and didn’t want to put it down. I think I ordered the next two books before I even finished the first. I also read the books once they all had been releases, so no wait.

      Same here as I read mostly at home nowadays I usually have less strong memories, just where I read them and sometimes the season or if somethinh big did happen. And when I do read a book awar from home I remember that strongly, like when I visited my mom during christmas and read Thief of Lies in the train there.
      Lola recently posted…Review: Amanda Lester and the Orange Crystal Crisis by Paula BerinsteinMy Profile

  10. This is such a unique topic! Associative memory is a great term for it! I have some associative memories of sorts for certain books. Whenever I think of Last Sacrifice, by Richelle Mead, I always have this Korean OST playing in my head, because I read that book whilst listening to that OST. I don’t know if that’s exactly the same as what you were talking about, because it’s not exactly a memory, but yeah xD Interesting post!
    Geraldine @ Corralling Books recently posted…All Book Reviews Are BiasedMy Profile

  11. I know exactly what you’re talking about, Lola. A friend of mine just starting reading Lick by Kylie Scott and when she mentioned it, I was immediately remembering how much I enjoyed listening to the book – while trail running. The book and being outdoors made me happy, I can remember the smell of the pine trees and the feel of the sun as I was introduced to these new characters and learned about their lives, watched them fall in love. Other things can trigger book memories for me as well and it can be seeing the book, hearing a song, or someone mentioning something – even a word – that triggers memories.
    Reading this post made me happy because it’s such a wonderful thing that books are so entwined in our lives – and that we readers share this ‘thing’. 😀
    Bookworm Brandee recently posted…Early Review ~ Getting Rough ~ C.L. ParkerMy Profile

    • It’s amazing how being reminded of a book cna trigger those memories of when you read it and how. Thanks for sharing your story of how Lick reminded you of trail running. Indeed sometimes a word can trigger book memories too, not as often a song for me as I usually don’t listen to music while reading.
      It definitely shows how reading is intertwined with our lives and how those memories get intertwined too. There are memories which are forever linked to the book I read and the same goes for the book.
      Lola recently posted…Review: Amanda Lester and the Orange Crystal Crisis by Paula BerinsteinMy Profile

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